I learned a new word today. “Grasscycling” it is simply the practice of not picking up your grass clippings and letting them filter back into the ground – good for the environment and good for your back! I learned this while attending a town hall meeting on recycling that was put on by Michigan House Rep Sarah Roberts. Anyone who knows me knows that I am anti smoking and very pro recycling so the conference was interesting and I was surprised at how much there still is to learn. Smoking: I didn't know that the state of Michigan is one of only 14 states which does not have a smoking ban. If I could get the sailors on the French team not to smoke why can’t we get the state to stop forcing us to be subjected to smoke in public places. One political figure at the Michigan Policy Conference last year told me that it was too cold in Michigan. I wish I knew then that Alaska has a ban of smoking in all public places! The facts are in smoking is not good for you or for me and thank God sailors have for the most part realized this. No longer do boat captains have to remind the foredeck crew not to smoke while doing a sail change. Don’t laugh, I unfortunately remember when the sail check used to include looking for burn holes.
Recycling: In Valencia Spain there are huge recycling bins placed outside of most large apartment buildings and on street corners throughout the city. We at AREVA fought for the city to provide bins to our teams. And then we fought to hold the collection agency responsible when they tossed the recycling we were so careful with into the rubbish truck. Agua Limpia was created with America’s Cup families to clean up the water through education and political pressure and by leading by example. I learned more about recycling doing the America’s Cup than I would have elsewhere. Once again sailing has been an education process and I am now using that experience to improve the recycling system here in Michigan where it is more or less in place but only 20% of what could be recycled is. We have a lot of work to do. A perfect example of this work is as we were walking off of the field at my nieces’ soccer game… where she scored THREE goals by the way… there were two large grey garbage cans filled with almost 100% recyclable trash. This is in a city where there is curbside recycling,. All that has to be done is to put the material in the correct bin and place it at the curb. We just needed the correct bin. I am kicking myself for not going back with garbage bags to collect it and leading by example. See there are opportunities all around us to step up and take a leadership role. Many many opportunites.
It doesn't matter where you are or for how long you are living there. Get involved - be the recycling police at home and if you haven't already, check out http://www.sailorsforthesea.org Their Green Regatta Program is a way for us to take a leadership role in our home clubs and make sure that there are no big grey barrels of recyclables going into the rubbish truck.